Palestinians say UAE deal hinders quest for Mideast peace
JERUSALEM — Israel’s agreement to establish diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates marks a watershed moment in its relations with Arab countries, but the Palestinians say it puts a just resolution of the Middle East conflict even farther out of reach.
The UAE presented its decision to upgrade long-standing ties to Israel as a way of encouraging peace efforts by taking Israel’s planned annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank off the table, something Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swiftly rebuffed by insisting the pause was “temporary.”
From the Palestinian perspective, the UAE not only failed to stop annexation, which would dash any remaining hopes of establishing a viable, independent state. It also undermined an Arab consensus that recognition of Israel only come in return for concessions in peace talks — a rare source of leverage for the Palestinians.
“I never expected this poison dagger to come from an Arab country,” Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official and veteran negotiator, said Friday. “You are rewarding aggression. … You have destroyed, with this move, any possibility of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”
The Palestinian Authority issued a scathing statement in response to the move, calling it a “betrayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Palestinian cause,” language clearly aimed at inflaming Arab and Muslim sentiment worldwide.